Another night against the Houston Aeros, another irreversible set of circumstances leading to a loss. The team was rightfully concerned about their play in the first period. Thursday night, they took entirely too much time to out-hustle the Aeros. By the time they set their minds towards high scoring chances, the Aeros had the Barons on their heels. Thus the second and third periods were full of bumbly Barons, thankfully good goaltending, and eventually a shootout win by Houston. The Barons knew what needed to be done 24 hours later, and they did it, just in reverse. The Aeros would defeat the Barons 4-3, and lock down some important standing points in the Western Conference race to Christmas victor.
The first period alone was vastly different from the one we saw the night before. Or at least for the first 6 minutes of the game. As Taylor Hall gave a cross-check to a Houston Aeros player (and Nugent-Hopkins gave a rough), the Aeros would head to the power play. They’d not connect immediately on the man advantage, but would score as soon as the Barons killed the penalty. Justin Fontaine would score his eighth of the year. After game misconducts were given to Colten Teubert and Jarrod Palmer (plus some extras to the Aeros), the Barons would tie the game off a Jordan Eberle power play goal. A great screen in front by Dane Byers caught my attention, and he indeed would have a solid first period all together. Houston would capitalize to take the lead again as the Barons found themselves over-committing on the power play. Jason Zucker, with his tenth of the year, placed the Aeros in the lead. But Mark Arcobello would net the second power play goal of the evening thirty seconds later. The period would end with high shot totals, decent goaltending, but two really key power play goals for Oklahoma City. 2-2 was your score after the first 20.
The second period things slowed considerably offensively while some ugliness reared its head. Right winger Johan Larsson would score the go-ahead goal for Houston a midst some strange unsportsmanlike conduct between Dane Byers and Drew Bagnall. When the dust settled, thirty penalty minutes were given to both teams collectively, but it was OKC that would take a dip in shot totals, and be out chanced heavily. Olivier Roy would keep things close for the Barons, but the penalties and malcontent would prove to be too much. The Aeros take the second period with a lead of 3-2.
Sparked by a need to score, Oklahoma City showed some life, but again were stung by penalties and an inability to stop the power play. Jason Zuckers scored his second of the night, unassisted, and the Aeros would extend the lead to 4-2 mid-way through the third. Taylor Hall, with a dandy of a dangle, would make things interesting about twenty seconds later, but the Aeros got solid goaltending from Matt Hackett.
The Aeros would finish off the two-game series with the Barons by defeating them in back-to-back nights. They’d also tie the Barons in the conference standings.
The Barons will get a full week off before facing another South Division rival in San Antonio. The Rampage, who hit the skids in November, look to bounce back against an OKC club looking to revive their respectability.